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The road to the winner’s circle has been a long and challenging one for trainer Paul Andrews, but he finally made it when Tad Lincoln won yesterday.
It was cold, wet and windy at Ascot Park, but that could not dampen Andrews’ mood after his 6yr-old made light work of the testing conditions to run away from his rivals for driver Mark Hurrell.
Andrews was first licenced in 1993, but health battles and other circumstances have led to him lining horses up sporadically since then.
At the time, the trainer was introduced to hands-on work with harness horses through his brother-in-law Ben Ward, who has since become the starter at Southland meetings.
“Ben was mucking around with some himself and I just had a bit of spare time and got involved,” Andrews said.
“But then I got quite sick and I wasn’t able to do anything with them for a few years.
"For about five years or so I stepped out of it.
“I had heart attacks and skin complaints — I couldn’t be out in the sun."
When Tad Lincoln won race 3 by two lengths, Andrews ticked off his long-held ambition of training a winner.
"It is good to be able to tick it off."
Andrews has had previous success in harness racing. The Tiwai Aluminium smelter worker bred, prepared and sold Lord Kennington, who went on to win seven races and run second to Holmes DG in the Waikato Flying Mile in 2002.
Andrews also bred and sold Kiwi Kennington, who won three races from Murray Faul’s Ascot Park stable.
Andrews went outside his own breed to acquire Tad Lincoln from friend and fellow trainer Adrian Wohlers.
"I got him off Adrian. He thought he still had a bit left in him, so I gave him a go."
Andrews added sliding blinds to Tad Lincoln’s gear for yesterday’s race and got instant success when the pacer scored his second career win.
"He has been going OK and when he has got a gap he sometimes wasn’t wanting to go there.
"Something wasn’t right and the sliding blinds seem to have woken him up."
Tad Lincoln’s first win was for trainers Kirstin Barclay and "Tank" Ellis in January, 2019.
Barclay and Ellis produced the quinella in race 1 when Ride In A Concord beat her stablemate Her Majesty.
Another first was notched at Ascot Park yesterday when junior driver Max Hill broke through for this win in the sulky behind the Barclay and Ellis trained Watch Me Now in race 8.
Mark Hurrell bagged a winning double when another stable quinella was recorded in race 2.
Hurrell drove the Craig Laurenson trained Sage Trouble to beat out her stablemate Miss Bamboocha.
Sage Trouble ran a good second when she and Jaguar Bay cleared out from the rest of the field in their last starts at Winton last week.
“She has done a good job this mare, she is pretty competitive in this grade,” Laurenson said.
“She can run around 2.52 [for 2200m] but when they better ones go 2.50 it is harder for her.”
“But she is improving.”